Lauren Lewis, MD, PhD, scientist extraordinaire, has a puzzle she cannot solve. The pieces consist of unspoken words, baleful gazes, and quiet sighs when her lover thinks she’s asleep.
If she were to chart a graph of Bo’s happiness from the time they killed Massimo to the time they revived Kenzi, she thinks it would be a positive yield curve. Well, maybe not when Bo found out she broke her leg in their save “The Kenz” mission, and the doctor marks a point on the x-axis and writes “Lauren breaks leg.”
Not that it ended badly – they did get Kenzi back after all, Lauren muses. Plus, the only person happier than she was when her leg healed was the succubus. Now this is definitely an exponential curve, the doctor smirks as she jots down “walk”, “run”, “coitus”, “test for bendiness”, followed by “position X”.
Still, that was months ago. There’s something different about Bo, but she doesn’t know what – yet.
A staunch believer that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, she’s often asked the succubus what’s bothering her. But Bo refused to answer the riddle, shaking her head and planting a warm kiss on the doctor’s lips instead, and Lauren’s never had a consolation prize this sweet.
She then tried the elimination method, listing all the points in her contradictorily neat doctor’s penmanship. The first person who noticed this quirk happens to be the first thing listed, when Kenzi sees her own name on the notepad.
“Y’know, I’ve been fae, turned back to human, been buried – figuratively, been to Valhalla, and I still can’t get over your quirks,” Kenzi said.
The girl’s toned down her snark after her trip to the underworld, even deigning to play fetch when the doctor was healing her leg in the clubhouse. Still, that counted as a tease of Lauren being weird, and the doctor knew Kenzi was fine. So she crossed off the girl’s name in a firm, straight, line.
Could Bo be depressed? Grabbing her old psychology textbooks, she flipped through them while asking Bo about possible symptoms. But after she said a tongue twisting psychology term, she looked up to find Bo staring at her face. The succubus placed a pair of thick-framed glasses on Lauren’s nose, and to this day, she still can’t relive the memory without shifting in her seat and clearing her throat. Suffice to say, she learned that playing psychiatrist can lead to dehydration, and it isn’t always because of the talking.…
…which changed after their trip to Valhalla. Communication may have been scarce in the early stages of their relationship, especially when Bo was mad at her, but they still talked about work. When she was with Nadia, when Kenzi was kidnapped by the kitsune, and even when she joined the Dark, Bo still sought her help on difficult cases, and they served as many an ice-breaker.
This time, though, it’s different. The succubus goes overboard on talking about other things, and changes the topic quickly whenever they touch on Bo’s detective work. What’s stranger is that the rest of the gang, including Vex, doesn’t tell her about cases anymore.
Not even after Bo walked in the door last night, her shirt half torn, blood spattered everywhere, and one of the eyes swollen and shut.
“Bo!” Lauren grabbed her first aid kit and rushed to help the succubus. “What happened?”
“It’s okay, doctor,” Bo says, wincing as Lauren half carried her to the couch. “It’s nothing, really – you should have seen the other fae.”
“Bo,” Lauren chided. She gently patted the succubus with a wet cloth, relief flooding through her as she finds out how little of the spilt blood belongs to her lover. “What were you doing? Where are the others?”
“Dyson copped it pretty bad too – I had to leave Tamsin with Kenzi because…y’know.” Bo coughed.
“You should have called me,” Lauren murmured as she checks her lover’s wounds. “I could have been there. What fae was it?”
“Don’t worry – it’s taken care of,” Bo said. And that was that.
And so Lauren Lewis has a puzzle she cannot solve. Initially, she took it as a challenge, and her curious nature welcomed it – until she had a bloody succubus returning home, spitting blood into rags. Now it just infuriates her, because her lover’s having nightmares on top of everything, and her mind runs overdrive on the possibilities – none of them good.
The ‘ding’ of the elevator breaks her out of her reverie, and the doctor storms into The Morrigan’s office – after tucking away her adult charts and graphs.
She demands to know if Evony’s issued a law to keep her out of investigative cases, and the head of the Dark Fae simply dumps a big stack of files on the desk.
“Under other circumstances, I’d do that to toy with you, Dr. Lewis,” The Morrigan says, her face devoid of her usual smirk. “But trust me – this definitely hurts me more than it does you.”
“But why? Did someone give an order that I can’t help?”
The Morrigan rubs her temples, waves a “never you mind” with her hand, and concentrates on the files.
Lauren heads back to her laboratory, the clickety-clack of her heels a little louder than usual. She’s certain that Bo has a hand in this, and resolves to speak to the succubus tonight. Surely Bo knows that she can focus on several puzzles simultaneously, she fumes.
Plus, it’s high time that her lover told her what’s going on.
Night approaches and she’s making Bo’s favorite dinner at the clubhouse. She’s even prepared a secret weapon (under her shirt), aimed to hit Bo’s weakest spot, in case the succubus doesn’t yield. Feeling a bit gleeful about the soon-to-be-solved riddle, she dances to a tune in her head as she wields her spatula.
“Someone sure is cheerful.”
She jumps a little at the snuggle attack, but when a hand sneaks its way into her frying pan, she smacks it away with reflexive speed and precision – a leftover trait from her military training.
“Hey, I just wanna taste what made my chef so absorbed that she couldn’t hear the door open,” Bo protests.
“It was masked by the sizzling sound.” Lauren rolls her eyes, but relents and turns around to pop a piece of food into the succubus’s mouth.
“Yummy,” Bo chews and nips the doctor’s fingertips. “When do we get to dessert?”
“You’re in a good mood today,” Lauren says. She should really get the food out of the pan, but she indulges herself in a rare event, wanting to savor the moment.
“I’m always in a good mood, doctor. Does this mean we can skip this?” The succubus’s deft hand reaches for the burner and switches off the stove, her other hand trails along Lauren’s spine, making its way towards the doctor’s –
“Nice try, Bo. You need nutrition to heal, and we shouldn’t waste food.” She slips away from Bo’s arms and takes a deep breath. Much as she wants to, she’ll never get to the bottom of the problem if they fall into the habit of charting their exponential curves in bed.
A few minutes later, Lauren finds herself forking food into her mouth mechanically, her focus on her lover across the table. From the way the succubus’s demolishing her meal despite her earlier protest, Lauren knows that Bo will regain full function of her arm by tomorrow morning.
Her stomach flutters a little when she thinks about how the succubus could have healed so quickly, and she pushes away that thought, reminding herself that they’ve covered this. Plus, having a fully healed Bo relieves her of dishwashing duty, and that’s always a plus.
“So, now that the dishes are done, is it time to move on to the main meal?” The succubus joins – or almost straddles – her on the couch.
“Not yet.” The doctor pushes Bo away gently and kisses her hand as a placeholder gesture. No time like the present. “Bo, what is it that you’re not telling me about your cases?”
The fingers that were drawing circles at the back of her hand halt.
“You know what I’m talking about,” Lauren coaxes. “Is there something I should know?”
The fingers withdraw. “No, Lauren – everything’s under control. You don’t need to worry.”
“But I do – look at what happened last night. I could have been there to help.”
The vehemence surprises Lauren, and her heart skips a beat.
“You couldn’t, Lauren. God I wish you wouldn’t –”
“Wouldn’t what?” This is far more serious than she anticipated.
“Wouldn’t interfere. Just leave it to us, okay?”
“To us? You mean to the gang or to the fae?” Bo’s the last person she expects to talk like this, and she grabs the succubus’s arm to stop her from leaving. “Bo, what the hell’s going on?”
“Nothing! I just…”
She keeps her stare at Bo, watching the succubus debating whether to finish her sentence. The look on Bo’s face reminds her of a cornered animal, and while she knows nothing good is going to come out of this, she braces herself and puts the succubus out of her misery.
“Say it, Bo. You just what?”
“I just can’t do this anymore.”